How a radical redesign of an online course signup page impacted email acquisition Experiment ID: #7028

Hillsdale College

Founded in 1844, Hillsdale College is an independent liberal arts college with a student body of about 1,400. Hillsdale’s educational mission rests upon two principles: academic excellence and institutional independence. The College does not accept federal or state taxpayer subsidies for any of its operations.

Experiment Summary

Timeframe: 7/5/2017 - 7/10/2017

Hillsdale College noticed that there was room for optimization on their “Economics 101” online course signup page. After reviewing other sites that offer online courses, they decided to take some design elements that they found and implement it in a treatment version of the page. They attempted to increase the congruency between their Facebook ad and the course signup page by using the same imagery in both. They also were interested in seeing how a “typical” online course signup page would perform against their current control. They launched an A/B test and documented the results.

Research Question

Will a radically redesigned course signup page that uses familiar imagery increase conversion?


C: Control
T1: Treatment 1


Treatment Name Conv. Rate Relative Difference Confidence
C: Control 22.8%
T1: Treatment 1 15.6% -31.2% 99.7%

This experiment has a required sample size of 238 in order to be valid. Since the experiment had a total sample size of 1,072, and the level of confidence is above 95% the experiment results are valid.

Flux Metrics Affected

The Flux Metrics analyze the three primary metrics that affect revenue (traffic, conversion rate, and average gift). This experiment produced the following results:

    0% increase in traffic
× 31.2% decrease in conversion rate
× 0% increase in average gift

Key Learnings

By emphasizing ad-to-page image continuity over a linear page design with supporting column content, the overall result was a statistically significant decrease in response.

If, however, the layout and supporting content was unchanged, and just the background was changed, we would hypothesize the result to be different/positive.

Despite the disappointing results, Hillsdale did learn a lot from this experiment. They will continue to test various page layouts, specifically on course signup pages.

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Experiment Documented by...

Kevin Peters

Kevin is the Chief Technology Officer at NextAfter. If you have any questions about this experiment or would like additional details not discussed above, please feel free to contact them directly.